Prison inmates read in the library of the York Community Reintegration Center on May 24, 2016, in Niantic, Connecticut. (Getty Images/John Moore)

For 22 years, there’s been a congressional ban on inmates receiving federal aid for college education, with opponents declaring it unfair that prisoners get a share of the limited funds.

Now, upwards of 12,000 inmates will get a chance to take college courses with the help of Pell Grants, thanks to a new program from the White House.

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The Washington Post reports the Obama Administration has created the Second Chance Pell Pilot Program. The trial program will include 67 colleges and universities, which will partner with nearly 100 federal institutions.

Although the congressional ban is still in place, President Obama is using his own executive powers to work around it.

All inmates enrolled in the program must be eligible to be released from prison within five years.

–Pell Grants: New rules may limit access to education

“We all agree that crime must have consequences, but the men and women who have done their time and paid their debt deserve the opportunity to break with the past and forge new lives in their homes, workplaces ad communities,” Education Secretary John B. King Jr. told the Washington Post.

“This belief in second chances is fundamental to who we are as Americans.”

King said the $30 million dollars in Pell Grant money will be spread across 27 states and represents less than 0.1 percent of the $30 billion dollar Pell program.

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